Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Xenophon, aka Xenophon of Athens NULL

Greek Historian, Soldier, Mercenary and Student of Socrates

"Moderation in all things healthful; total abstinence from all things harmful."

"Most of all I vowed that my followers would learn more from my own example than from any legal code or set of regulations. As important to the people as written laws may be, the leader serves as a living law. He not only acts as a competent guide but also functions as a wise judge, detecting and punishing those who fail to serve the people with justice and honesty."

"Must not he also who has but little trust in others feel himself deprived of a very great blessing? For what society can be agreeable without mutual confidence, even between a man and a wife?"

"No human being will ever know the truth, for even if they happened to say it by chance, they would not know they had done so."

"On making prisoners of our generals, they expected that we should perish from want of direction and order. It is incumbent, therefore, on our present commanders to be far more vigilant than our former ones, and on those under command to be far more orderly, and more obedient to their officers, at present than they were before...On the very day that such resolution is passed, they will see before them ten thousand Clearchuses instead of one."

"Pleasure is what nearly all cavalry training involves. It is the closest a man can get, as far as I know, to flying, and that is something people long to be able to do."

"Policy goes beyond strength, and contrivance before action; hence it is that direction is left to the commander, and execution to the soldier, who is not to ask Why? but to do what he is commanded."

"Pray to God, at the beginning of all thy works, that so thou mayest bring them all to a good ending."

"Remember too, I added, that getting rid of scoundrels ends the danger of contamination for the rest of the army. Men are drawn closer to virtue when they see the dishonor that falls on misleaders."

"Royalty is the most wretched condition imaginable; for there is no possibility of setting one's self free from it, since how can any sovereign command sufficient resources to make restitution of property to those from whom he has taken it, or how can he make atonement in bonds to those whom he has cast into prison, or how can he offer a sufficient number of lives to die for those whom he has put to death?"

"Separated from Hellas by more than a thousand miles, they had not even a guide to point the way."

"Such as are excited by the gentler influence of Love assume more of affection in their looks, sink their voice into greater softness, and manifest in their gestures greater nobleness of soul."

"That is the road to the obedience of compulsion. But there is a shorter way to a nobler goal, the obedience of the will. When the interests of mankind are at stake, they will obey with joy the man whom they believe to be wiser than themselves. You may prove this on all sides: you may see how the sick man will beg the doctor to tell him what he ought to do, how a whole ship?s company will listen to the pilot."

"That the greater part of mankind are deluded by the splendor of royalty, I am not at all surprised; for the multitude appear to me to judge of people as happy or miserable principally from what they see. And royalty exhibits to the world conspicuously, and unfolded fully to the view, those objects which are esteemed of the highest value; while it keeps the troubles of kings concealed in the inmost recesses of the soul, where both the happiness and the misery of mankind reside."

"That the truly contented man is not the possessor of vast riches. The crown of happiness goes to the person who has the skill to gain money fairly, use it honorably, and not mistake gold for a god of power and light."

"That... is the road to the obedience of compulsion. But there is a shorter way to a nobler goal, the obedience of the will. When the interests of mankind are at stake, they will obey with joy the man whom they believe to be wiser than themselves. You may prove this on all sides: you may see how the sick man will beg the doctor to tell him what he ought to do, how a whole ship's company will listen to the pilot."

"The art of war is, in the last result, the art of keeping one?s freedom of action."

"The corrupt heart breaketh out by the lewd tongue."

"The divine nature is perfection; and to be nearest to the divine nature is to be nearest to perfection."

"The Divinity is so great, and of such a character, that He both sees and hears all things, is omnipotent, and attends to all things at once."

"The earth also kindly teaches men justice, at least such as are able to learn; for it is those who treat her best that she recompenses with the most numerous benefits."

"The equipment for dogs are collars, leashes, and girths. Let the collars be soft as well as broad, that they may not wear off the dog's hair. Let the leashes have loops for the hand attached to them, but nothing else; for those who form the collars out of the leashes do not manage well for their dogs. Let the girths have broad bands, that they may not gall their flanks; and let there be iron points stitched into them that they may protect the breeds."

"The first duty is to sacrifice to the gods and pray them to grant you the thought,words, and deeds likely to render your command most pleasing to the gods and bring yourself, your friends, and your city the fullest measure of affection and glory and advantage"

"The gods give nothing really good and beautiful without labor."

"The invention of the art [of hunting] is from the gods; for hunting and dogs were the care of Apollo and Diana, who rewarded and honored Chiron with a knowledge of them on account of his regard for justice."

"The more dishes a man has on his table beyond what is sufficient, the sooner satiety in eating comes upon him."

"The most delightful of all music, that of your own praises."

"The oldest and wisest of human communities show most respect to the gods, and are most careful of their worship."

"The pleasures of love, then... seem to be the only objects that can excite in you the desire of reigning; for in this respect it is in your power to attach yourselves to whatever object you find eminently beautiful."

"The sweetest of all sounds is praise."

"The true test of a leader is whether his followers will adhere to his cause from their own volition, enduring the most arduous hardships without being forced to do so, and remaining steadfast in the moments of greatest peril."

"There is a deep?and usually frustrated?desire in the heart of everyone to act with benevolence rather than selfishness, and one fine instance of generosity can inspire dozens more."

"There is small risk a general will be regarded with contempt by those he leads, if, whatever he may have to preach, he shows himself best able to perform."

"Things are his property alone who knows how to use them."

"To enjoy objects of our affection by force appears to be more like the act of a robber than that of a lover."

"To quote a dictum of Simon, what a horse does under compulsion he does blindly, and his performance is no more beautiful than would be that of a ballet-dancer taught by whip and goad."

"To take from enemies against their will, I consider to be one of the highest gratifications; but favours from objects of affection give us most pleasure when they bestow them voluntarily."

"Truly, men often fail to understand their own weaknesses, I said neutrally, and their lack of self-knowledge can bring terrible disasters down on their own heads."

"We feel a greater pride in conversing with those who are superior to us in honor, than with those who are on a level with us."

"We ought to give good examples to our children, because if they see no uncomeliness, they shall be forced to follow goodness and virtue."

"What am I lying here for?...We are lying here as though we had a chance of enjoying a quiet time...Am I waiting until I become a little older?"

"When a horse wants to display himself...he lifts his neck up high and flexes his poll haughtily, and picks his legs up freely, and keeps his tail up."

"When the dogs are tired with running, and it is late in the day, the hunter may still continue to seek for the hare, which will also be tired, leaving nothing unexamined of all that the earth produces or has upon it, making frequent turnings about, that the animal may not escape him (for it lies in a small space, and sometimes shrinks from leaving it through weariness and terror), leading forward the dogs, animating them, cheering such as are docile with many words of encouragement, such as are intractable with but few, and such as are of an intermediate character with a moderate number, until he either kills the hare by tracking it, or drive it into the nets."

"When the inhabitants of a free city have overcome the enemy in the field, it is not easy to express the pleasure which they feel in putting their opponents to flight, as well as in pursuing and making havoc of them."

"When the interests of mankind are at stake, they will obey with joy the man whom they believe to be wiser than themselves."

"When the puppies are born, we must leave them with the mother, and not put them to another dog; for the nurture of strange dogs does not sufficiently contribute to growth; but the milk and breath of their mothers is good for them, and their caresses pleasing."

"When, lithe of limb, she danced the Pyrrhic, loud clapping followed; and the Paphlagonians asked, If these women fought by their side in battle? to which they answered, To be sure, it was the women who routed the great King, and drove him out of camp. So ended the night."

"Wherever magistrates were appointed from among those who complied with the injunctions of the laws, Socrates considered the government to be an aristocracy."

"Yet is it more honorable, and just, and upright, and pleasing, to treasure in the memory good acts than bad."

"You are well aware that it is not numbers or strength that bring the victories in war. No, it is when one side goes against the enemy with the gods' gift of a stronger morale that their adversaries, as a rule, cannot withstand them. I have noticed this point too, my friends, that in soldiering the people whose one aim is to keep alive usually find a wretched and dishonorable death, while the people who, realizing that death is the common lot of all men, make it their endeavor to die with honor, somehow seem more often to reach old age and to have a happier life when they are alive. These are facts which you too should realize (our situation demands it) and should show that you yourselves are brave men and should call on the rest to do likewise."